Public Speaking: Tips for Coping With Anxiety

Some people work by communicating directly with the public. Others have activities that demand less exposure. But, in general, they all require some level of social interaction.

In addition, talking to other people and giving presentations is part of many activities, such as college presentations, trips, courses and even personal tours.

However, it is common to find someone who has difficulties and is afraid to speak to many people. And it is not always due to unpreparedness or lack of mastery of the subject. In fact, it is usually out of nervousness.

For this reason, training and mastering some public speaking practices can be essential to be able to do well in presentations or communications in public.

Why are we afraid to speak in public?

Many people associate fear of public speaking with shyness, but this is far from the truth. One of the biggest reasons for this is anxiety .

It can be defined as the fear of a future threat, real or imagined and often appears in the face of social situations, such as public speaking.

This happens because of fear of rejection. The possibility of the public having a negative opinion about the presentation is interpreted by the brain as an imminent threat, which causes the symptoms of anxiety.

Among these symptoms are palpitations, excessive sweating, tremors, confusion and shortness of breath. The person may be so nervous that he cannot perform the task. Stuttering, losing concentration or “going blank” are common reactions to anxiety when giving a presentation in public.

Remember that feeling anxious before doing things that can lead to rejection is completely normal. However, in some people, the fear is so intense that it becomes a real phobia: glossophobia .

People who suffer from glossophobia usually do everything to avoid this type of situation, which can cause a lot of damage, considering that public speaking can be decisive for academic and / or professional success.

So it’s not just shyness that makes people afraid to speak in public. Even those who are very outgoing can have this fear. Among the factors that can aggravate this situation are:

  • Anxiety disorders;
  • Language disorders;
  • Lack of oratory techniques;
  • Lack of preparation.

Is it possible to learn to speak in public?

Yes, it is possible to learn to speak in public. The main challenge is to overcome anxiety.

There are many public speaking courses that can help increase self-confidence at the time of a presentation and, consequently, reduce anxiety.

However, not everyone has a good ability to regulate anxiety and continue to suffer from it. In these cases, psychotherapy and psychiatric follow-up are appropriate options.

How to speak and express yourself well in public?

Public speaking does not have to be complicated. In fact, there are a few simple tips for making a good presentation:

Prepare a good introduction

The initial anxiety starts to dissipate about 30 to 60 seconds after the presentation starts. Therefore, being confident that you have a good introduction can be essential for this first part to go well and, consequently, the rest of the presentation as well.

Focus on the main points

Remember that it is normal to forget one detail or another at the time of the presentation, but this is not a problem. As long as the main points are clearly expressed, the presentation is not affected.

Give rhythm and clarity

It is also important to maintain a rhythm in speech. You cannot talk too monotonously or too quickly, as there is a risk that the public will lose interest.

Speaking slowly and clearly, without dragging the speech, is a good technique for the presentation to flow at a legal pace.

A few seconds of silence between one topic and another are not problems, on the contrary, they make the speech even more natural, as people realize that, after the pause, another subject is addressed.

Breathe properly

One of the most important factors for speaking well in public is breathing. Anyone who has taken a singing class knows that breathing is the basis of voice projection, so knowing how to breathe correctly is essential.

To do this, do diaphragmatic breathing exercises: breathe slowly and deeply, expanding the abdomen instead of the chest. Slowly release the air and repeat.

This type of breathing, in addition to improving speech, can still be a calming practice at the time of presentation.

Take care of the posture

The stance on stage can greatly influence the way the audience sees you. At the time of the presentation, it is important that the posture has an image of dominance.

To do this, practice more open postures at home with an upright spine. Avoid those that are too tight, with your arms too close to your body, as this shows a lack of confidence.

Practice gestures when speaking

As well as posture, gestures can also greatly influence the public’s perception. Gesturing while speaking helps to convey a self-confident image.

Move on when you get it wrong

It is important to keep in mind that mistakes are normal and the audience often does not remember the mistakes made during the presentation.

Normally, the brain focuses on two things: the emotional peak and the end of the presentation. This means that people will remember better the end of the presentation and the part that most had an emotional impact on them.

Therefore, details such as a stutter at some point or forgetfulness are not enough to ruin the presentation in the minds of the viewers.

So it is essential to move on whenever you make a mistake. When you make a mistake, you are likely to be a little nervous and this will disrupt the fluidity of the presentation.

The fear of making mistakes again can be so great that you can paralyze and lose concentration. However, this only happens if you place too much importance on the error.

This means that it is enough to continue the speech, so the nervousness dissipates and you are able to finish the presentation without any major problems.

Finish well

As stated earlier, the brain usually remembers the ending, so making a good ending is a great idea. Do an activity with the audience or tell a story. Activities that stimulate the public’s imagination are great for making an impact.

Be honest about what you don’t know

If someone asks you something you don’t know, don’t try to curl up. Not knowing something does not mean unpreparedness, it just means that there is a missing information. Not even excellent researchers know everything about their research topics.

When you don’t know the answer to a question, admit that you don’t and ask what the audience thinks. This increases engagement and makes the audience realize that they can also contribute to the debate.

Search for topics you like

Planning is important, but talking about something you like or believe in can be the key to a smooth and enjoyable presentation. Focus on topics of interest or points of view that are congruent with your opinion.

That way, the presentation can be much more enjoyable, both for you because it is talking about something that interests you and for the audience that can identify your genuine interest in the subject.

Research about the venue and the audience

Nothing better to prepare than to know where and to whom you will be speaking. Knowing the location allows you to know what tools will be available on the day of the presentation, for example, a projector for a slide show .

Knowing your audience is fundamental not only to bring up a subject of interest to these people, but to work on a language that really dialogues with them.

Public Speaking Training

Some things you can do at home to improve your performance when speaking in public are:

Present to a fictional audience

Introducing yourself to strangers can be quite tricky, but have you thought about introducing yourself to your family or close friends?

This is an activity that contributes to having enough confidence to speak in public. It is possible to start with an imaginary audience as well.

Record your workouts

When training your presentation at home, record video to analyze and recognize flaws. With the recording, you can observe your posture, intonation, speed of speech, among other factors.

Create a script for the presentation

Most people, before the presentations, write a text containing everything they want to say.

Although this technique seems to be effective, it can be quite disruptive, especially if the person tries to memorize the text to present.

This is because, with the decorated text, when forgetting any passage, nervousness appears and can prevent the presentation from progressing.

The ideal is to create a script for the presentation and follow a line of reasoning with a beginning, middle and end. That way, even if you forget some of the content, the logic of the presentation will save you.

Study the subject

There is no doubt that, when making a presentation, the person should at least know about the subject. Although you don’t need to know everything, try to study beyond the basics.

This is because in many cases people have doubts at the end of the presentation and studying only what will be presented can leave you with no answer to the questions, showing that the study of the topic was shallow.

Mastering public speaking practices is a good way to be able to express yourself well, even at times when nervousness appears. Preparing and mastering the subject, knowing the environment and working on self-confidence are important tips.

But, in addition, it is important to know your own limitations and fears, as this helps people to discover the best tips and ways to deal with apprehension when speaking in public.

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